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How One Triathlete Turned Her Blog into a Memoir

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Lindsey Jacobs found her voice as an author while going through one significant life change after another. She transformed her story into a nonfiction book with a little help from The Book Professor®.

It started with a lifelong dream

Lindsey Jacobs had always wanted to write a book. As a kid, she took creative writing courses and crafted poetry. Though she harbored a desire to have a finished novel one day, she said, “I would never have expected my first book to be my personal story.”

That story was fraught with difficulty. Lindsey went through a painful divorce. She struggled to learn how to become a single mom and deal with the fallout from her marriage. In talks with a counselor, she discovered her “normal” wasn’t normal at all. She had been worn down and completely stripped of her sense of self—traumatized by years of abuse.

As therapy helped her heal, she sought balance in her day-to-day life. Lindsey had always been a runner and, at the time, worked at a Fleet Feet franchise. A co-worker encouraged her to train for a triathlon, something Lindsey had never considered.

Inspired by her friend’s words, she decided to sign up for an IRONMAN® triathlon. The training was tough. She still enjoyed running but found biking tedious and repetitive. Worse, she was a weak swimmer, terrified of water.

But as she tackled her tangible fear of swimming, she found she could also tackle some of her less tangible fears—the anxieties that came with her new life.

During a training session one day, Lindsey had an idea for a short essay. Though she said it started as “stream-of-conscious ramblings,” by the time she got home, she had a two-page anecdote to type up.

Lindsey took her small document to work and discovered it resonated with other athletes. They said, “This looks like it belongs on a blog. Have you ever thought about starting one?”

She hadn’t, but she found the idea exciting. She purchased the domain ramblingrunnergirl.com and started blogging. Her initial posts were purely about running and triathlon.

However, she began to write about the training process in the context of her life and struggles. Before Lindsey knew it, she had something more than “ramblings” on her blog. She had a strong idea for a book.

Seeing a Nonfiction Book Inside a Blog

As Lindsey blogged faithfully, she found a powerful metaphor. All of life is like training for a triathlon. Each of us experiences:

  • Fears (swimming)
  • Monotonous obligation (biking)
  • Joys (running)

When she saw how these ideas came together, she said to herself, “I need to tell this story.”

Lindsey completed IRONMAN Arizon in 2014. Not long after, she ran into Paul Gilbride, a former Fleet Feet customer of hers. As they spoke, she shared her experience and book idea.

Listening to Lindsey, Paul said, “I’ve got to introduce you to somebody!” Paul had been working on a book of his own with Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor®.

As an athlete, Lindsey understood how helpful a great coach could be. She decided to write her book with Nancy, choosing the Group Mastermind process.

Lindsey said, “I’m an athlete. I’ve always been part of a team, and I love the camaraderie of people alongside me who are working toward a common goal. The Group Coaching thing was perfect for me.”

Lindsey came to the table with several ideas but no structure. She appreciated Nancy’s step-by-step process, which reminded her of the drills her swimming coach assigned her.

Lindsey said, “I’m a creative. I have a lot of ideas, but sometimes those ideas just kind of float around in my brain without any real purpose. Having Nancy to guide with her modular plan made it really easy to follow and tackle little bits at a time.”

She continued, “When I started swimming, I had no clue what I was doing. The swim coach said, ‘Okay, I want you to swim the length of the pool without using your legs—just your arms.’ Then, later, he had me swim by skimming my fingertips on the top of the water. When you work on one small thing at a time, it’s easier to put the whole thing together into one natural motion.

“That’s how it was with my book. I had all these ideas I was thinking through. But breaking down the book-writing process with Nancy was like learning how to swim.”

However, as Lindsey continued to find personal balance, she decided to go to nursing school. With full-time work, single motherhood, and college, she had to “sideline her book for a while”—halfway through the first draft.

But even though she stopped working on her book, her book kept working on her.

Relying on a Book Coach

Nancy believed in the book and kept in touch with Lindsey. When Lindsey finished school, Nancy asked if she was ready to finish her book.

She was. The two picked up right where they had left off. Though life became busy again, she kept going. Lindsey said, “Nancy was great. She told me to go easy on myself and never beat myself up for not going about it perfectly. Just like with training, there are good days and bad days. You just have to press on.”

Though Lindsey had structured her book around a BookMAP™ 2 structure (problem/solution sets), the book made more sense as a memoir, based around a BookMAP™ 1 structure. (Read more about BookMAPs here.) The whole book ended on a “big moment,” which was the moment she crossed the IRONMAN finishline.

However, for Lindsey, she didn’t feel like the structure worked until she reached the editing phase. After months of work and struggle, while she was out for a run, she saw the opening scene in her mind. When she found that scene, everything clicked into place.

She said, “It’s just like training. You have to trust the process—that it will all come out in the end.”

A Story that Changes Lives

It’s been a whirlwind for Lindsey. She began training for IRONMAN Arizona in 2014. Since then, she’s become a triathlete, a blogger, a nurse, and has even re-married. Through it all, she managed to finish her book, which she was released on January 1, 2020.

Now that her book is out in the world, she’s found how relatable her traumatic experiences are. She said, “My story is very vulnerable. And I have gotten such great feedback from people! My favorite part is that people now share their stories with me.”

She even got an endorsement from Olympic rower—and three-time gold-medalist—Emily Regan. You can buy Lindsey’s book, Stronger: From Trials to Triathlete to Triumphant, on Amazon.

What’s Your Story?

Do you have an amazing story to tell? Some insight into life that you want to share with the world?

At TheBookProfessor.com, we believe you do. Don’t keep it to yourself. And don’t let your ideas just rattle around in your heart, head, or blog. Contact Nancy Erickson and get started on your book.


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Prior Programming & Personal Growth

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There’s a funny thing about childhood. It’s seems like we make it through only to spend the rest of our lives either denying it or trying to recover from it. I wasn’t always willing to examine my childhood and how it has affected me long into my adult life, but I now realize that stories of personal growth help others see that they are not alone in our struggles.

When I was growing up, I had a wonderful family, but we moved a lot. My dad worked for IBM, which at the time people joked about it meaning “I’ve Been Moved.” We moved a lot. The longest place we ever lived was three years, and the shortest was nine months. By the time I graduated high school, I’d been to nine different schools.

The culture shock was, at times, dizzying. When I was twelve, we moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Chicago area. Itprior-programming-and-personal-growth was like moving to a foreign country. The people talked differently, and it wasn’t just their strange accent I had trouble understanding. They used odd phrases like, “Do you want to go with?” Go with what? With whom? I kept waiting for them to finish their sentence and they never did. They called the restrooms “washrooms,” and Coke, which, for me, was the proper name for every soft drink in the world, was called “pop.”

Even the solar system was different. It got dark around 4:00 when I was barely home from school, when in Tulsa—even in the dead of winter—the sun didn’t set until around 5:30. And then there was the cold. It wasn’t just cold in Chicago. It was bitter, bone chilling cold, and the real temperature, which plunged to 21 below zero, felt like 40 below with the wind chill. When I walked outside to go to the bus stop, my nostrils froze shut. I was cold to the bone, summer and winter, the entire three years we lived there.

It wasn’t easy always being the new girl. Every place we moved was so different. What were the rules here? Who could I trust? Who should I be? The trepidation of walking into a new school on the first day was crippling. My stomach tightened, my bowels loosened, and my neck got stiff. As all eyes bored into me when I stood in front of the room to be introduced, I fantasized about being lifted up onto a cloud and transported away. I didn’t want to start over. And over. And over.

It was important that I figure things out before I shared any of myself in any way. I needed to learn the rules and customs and behaviors in a new place, so I could mimic them and fit in. I became a completely different person every time we moved, and I adopted new personas to match what I saw in others. That’s when I developed my three most crippling self-defeating beliefs:
1. If people know who I really am, they won’t like me.
2. No one cares about me.
3. I don’t matter.

My personal growth process progressed slowly but surely

It’s been a long time since I was twelve years old, and I wish I could say that those internal messages disappeared with my youth, but they did not. To the contrary, these became my core beliefs about myself, and they kept me in chameleon mode for far too much of my life. These negative beliefs caused me to neglect myself and my own needs, to marry an abusive husband, to work in a career that I hated, to be under-developed as a human being, and to live a life of crippling anxiety — always trying to figure out what to do, who to be, how to act.

With the help of some good therapy, journaling, and a daily practice of meditation, I’ve worked through these issues, and they no longer cripple me. But I admit that, on certain days, I have to work really, really hard just to justify my existence. On those days I feel like I don’t matter, that no one cares about me, and if people knew who I really was, they wouldn’t like me.

When you’ve built your life on a lie, it’s hard to overcome that thinking. The lie becomes the truth, and the truth becomes a lie. I believe it’s the lies we tell ourselves that prevent us from doing the things we were meant to do and for which we are gifted. The lies we create become barriers that block us from personal growth.

I don’t know what lies you’ve been telling yourself, but I do know the truth.

You do matter. You are important. You can help other people.

You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer that’s worthy of writing a book, but I disagree. Take a look at your life, what you’ve learned, what you’ve been through, what you’ve developed, what you’ve gleaned, what you’ve endured. Take a moment to consider your story of personal growth and all you have done to get to where you are now. You may not know everything else in life, but you do know your own life. You know your own patch of ground, and you know it well. What do you know and what have you learned that can change lives, save lives, or transform society?

You can do that, can be that voice of hope and help to others, and I’m here to help.


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autobiography vs memoir book coach which should i write

Autobiography or Memoir: Which should you write?

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autobiography vs memoir book coach which should i writeThe words “autobiography” and “memoir” are often used interchangeably in social situations – (and even on Amazon.com categories!) but the two terms represent vastly different types of work.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is a written story that typically covers a portion of someone’s life. This type of book is often written by “normal” people like you and me, and can start at any point within an author’s life. Historically, autobiographies tend to be dryer material – more factually researched and historical than memoirs, which can have a more emotional edge and a moral to the story.

Should I write my memoir?

As I often say, you are the only one who can tell your story! Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before you embark on the journey of writing your book:

  1. Do you have a story worth telling? If you have a story that others would be interested in – experiences you’ve had, circumstances that you’ve overcome, major accomplishments and the road to achievement – then there may be interest in your story. Oftentimes, the authors whose autobiographies perform best have been told by family, friends, and colleagues, “you should write a book,” for a number of years. Has this happened for you?
  2. Do you have a story that could help others?  I’m a firm believer that if your story has the potential to help others who face similar circumstances to yours, by bettering their lives or personal experiences, that you have a duty to share your story.
  3. Can your story be told with total honesty (absolutely no embellishment!) and how the readers’ attention? Often times, you’ll find that all of the little stories that make up the big story of your life can be interesting enough without added embellishment. You simply need to look at the language you use to impart your experiences.

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography typically covers the events of a writer’s entire life from birth to present. An autobiographical book typically focused on the total trajectory of an individual’s life and highlights many experiences from a personal point of view in chronological order. Authors typically highlight formative instances from childhood, adolescence, and their adult years. Autobiographies are typically written by celebrities, experts and people of significance, and contain highly researched and verifiable information.

Should I write my autobiography?

If you are unsure about whether or not you should write a memoir, I’d recommend that you ask yourself all of the same questions listed above and that you add one more:

Is your life so significant that someone would be captivated by the entire experience – from the beginning until now? 

Additionally, you should consider if the public’s interest in your story is more emotional or historical. Autobiography is clearly the more historical of the two types of non-fiction life writing.

Are you ready to write?

If, after you’ve considered all of the questions above, you believe you have a story that needs to be told, I’m ready to help you start writing and publishing your book. The success of your book – and how relatable it is to your audience depends on how well you tell it. As your personal book coach, I can help you craft your story and work with you when you to write a book that is beyond compare. Don’t let fear of writing keep you from sharing your story with the world!

If you need help to write your book, consider working with me as you write your first book. Details below!

 

 


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April-Webinar-how to attract an audience for your book book marketing

How to Attract an Audience for Your Book

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How to attract an audience for your bookAs a writer, you may enjoy the solitary pursuit of writing, but one thing’s for sure—when your book is finished you’ll want get it in the hands of readers. The best way to do that is to start now, even as you write your book, to attract your audience.

You may have heard the old adage that it takes seven touches to make a sale. In book marketing, that has held true. Your audience needs to hear what you’re about, to learn to respect you as you prove your expertise, and to become interested in you and enticed by what you have to say, well in advance of a purchase.

1. Define Your Audience

Before you can attract an audience, you need to know who they are. Of course, your readers are your audience, but who are they? Picture them as they walk in the bookstore. What do you see? Is it women between the ages of 30 and 50? Parents who want to instill values in their children? Business owners who are short of cash?

The key is to figure out who your audience is before you begin writing your nonfiction book because that’s the group you will influence, the group you will impact, and the group you will target when your book is complete.

2. Define Your Book’s Market

Isn’t your audience the same as your market? Not necessarily. Your market is the people/organizations/institutions that will purchase your book. For example, if you are writing a book for children, children are your audience, but they’re not your market. Your market is the person with the pocketbook – the parents.

Think about those people/organizations/institutions that might purchase your book, for example, educators if you’re writing about children, or mental health practitioners if you are writing about walking conquering depression. Try to identify at least six markets for your book – a primary market and five secondary markets. You’re going to use this information when you start reaching out to potential customers, so be thorough.

3. Classify Your Book

Part of knowing your audience is knowing where your book fits in relation to other books. In other words, what is it’s genre?

The term genre simply means a particular classification or type of book, and there are two main genres in writing: fiction and nonfiction. There are numerous sub-genres within each of these genres, and you need to know where your book fits. Why is this important? It’s important to you because you want to reach a certain audience, and people often select the books they read according to genre. That’s why bookstores divide their selections by genre—it makes it easier for people to find the books that appeal to them.

Think about your audience again. If they are looking for your book, what section will they browse in a bookstore? Assume they don’t know the book title or your name as the author. They simply want to find the information that your book delivers. Where are they going to look? Identify your book’s genre, and you will have some insight on how to reach your market.

This is the starting point for identifying your readers, but there’s more to it than simply identifying your genre. Your readers are buried within your target markets, and I want you to know how to scout them out.

4. Target Your Markets

With all the books being published, it’s more important that EVER to know your market and how to reach your audience.

So, go back to your ideal customer. They’re hard to find because they look like everyone else, so we have identify them according to what they need. And what is that? They need the SOLUTION that is found in your book. You may think, “I know who they are – generally – but I don’t know how to get to them specifically.”

Go back to your list you made of primary and secondary markets and create a detailed plan to reach them. Do this before your book is finished, so you’ll be ready to get your book in their hands when it’s published.


 

 

 

 


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